Ravens use luck, staunch defense to beat Houston

January 15, 2012 | Drew Forrester

Ravens use luck, staunch defense to beat Houston

I’ll call it like I saw it and you can either agree or comment through your purple colored glasses.

Sunday’s thriller over the Texans was the luckiest big win in Ravens history.

Yes, the Ravens were lucky to win on Sunday.  And that’s a fact.

But there’s a saying — better to be lucky than good looking…or something like that. Luck often plays a role in life – and in sports – and some games and days you get the good part of it and sometimes you get the bad part.

A win-is-a-win, particularly when it means you’re moving on to the penultimate game of the season with a chance to play for the world championship, but you won’t see a Ravens team get dominated on the line of scrimmage like they did on Sunday and still find a way to triumph when the final whistle blew.

But we’ll take it.

A thorough review of the victory points more to the Texans inexperience in post-season above anything else.  The game hinged and changed on four plays, all of which went in the Ravens favor.

1) The Jacoby Jones muffed punt in the first quarter — after Baltimore went 3-and-out on their first series — was the early blow-to-the-jewels.

2) T.J. Yates throwing a wobby pass that would have made Tim Tebow proud later on in the opening period helped open the floodgates to the tune of a 17-3 Ravens lead.

3) Gary Kubiak eschewing the smart play (a punt) and going with the gamble (a 50-yard field goal that fell short) in the 3rd quarter when his defense had been slapping the Ravens offense around for the better of 30 minutes was a backbreaker.

4) And the icing was provided again by Yates, who forgot that 1:55 is an eternity and threw a pass up for grabs in the waning moments of the 4th quarter with the Ravens ahead 20-13.  That Ed Reed interception, while not officially the game-decider, was certainly the nail that nearly drove the coffin shut.

The Ravens don’t make those four mistakes in playoff games, which is why John Harbaugh’s team is headed to their 2nd AFC title game in four years next Sunday in New England.

The Texans looked like they team they are — a good, young football team with playoff acne that a teenager would cry about.

Lots of people around town will say this ALL week:  ”If the Ravens play like that in New England next Sunday, they’ll get blown out.”

You’re going to hear that more than you hear “I don’t go to Camden Yards anymore…”

It’s all you’ll hear.

And those people will be right.  IF – and that’s IF in all CAPS – the Ravens turn in a stinker like that on offense next Sunday, they’ll lose by 25 points.

But they have a week to get it straightened out.

And while playing in New England isn’t the easiest of tasks, I can only suspect that the likes of Lewis, Suggs and Reed will man-up and put forth a yeoman’s effort at Gillette Stadium.  The offense, of course, might be a different story.  That the Texans stifled Baltimore most of the afternoon on Sunday shouldn’t be a complete surprise.  They have a very good defensive unit.  But little things like not being able to put the game away with three chances from the 1-yard line in the 3rd quarter and not having the ability to run out the clock after Reed’s late-game pick are bound to be areas of concern for the Ravens this week.  That’s how you lose games against great teams like New England.  So cleaning up those blemishes is paramount for Harbaugh, Cam Cameron and the rest of the purple offense.

Sunday’s win over the Texans was more about Houston’s failings than Baltimore’s successes.

But don’t let that fool you.

The Ravens are moving on and the Texans aren’t.

And really, that’s all that matters today.

Better to be lucky than good looking.

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13 Comments For This Post

  1. tsnamm Says:

    The short yardage plays were killers, one that should have been a TD and another that that would have sealed the game…the offense did practically nothing without the defense handing them the ball. New England’s defense stinks, but if all we generate is a couple of field goals for offense, Brady will shred this team. The defense was on the field too much against TJ Yates, and even he started to get some traction. We simply cannot leave the D out there that long against a quarterback like Tom Brady and expect a victory. Like you said its a big IF…the Ravens will need to start getting everything working for next Sunday,or it will be a disappointing off season.

  2. Rick Says:

    You win, you move on, you lost you go home. The Ravens did what they had to do to win and move on, period. It’s not pretty, but the playoffs aren’t a beauty contest. The Ravens do play up to their competition, and the Pats are beatable. Time to focus on what didn’t work, correct it, and get ready for the Pats next week.

  3. eric Says:

    Hou’s defense is miles better than NE and their running game is as well so this is a completely different task. Story of today was we lost the battle at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. I find it hard to fathom that our OL could lose that battle to NE. If they do the SD game will look competitive by comparison. I’ll say the Ravens get a late TD to make it close but fall 34-28.

  4. unitastoberry Says:

    New England defense is just what the doctor ordered for the Ravens offense unless Cam blows it. I want Pagano to dial it up on the cripple known as Brady too. Festivus continues.

  5. Robert Says:

    Fortunate for the Ravens today that the defense & special teams were effective, because the offense wasn’t. I don’t understand the Raven’s stubborness in running between the tackles & Flacco’s indifference to the Texan’s pash rush. Let’s hope good luck is again on the Raven’s side next week. Cheers.

  6. charlie Says:

    drew, this is boh correct and fair. they were lucky, and we’ll take it. there’s nothing wrong w/being lucky, of course. and good teams have a way of making their own luck. but next week, winning should not be left to luck. here’s hoping they pull ut an “A” game that leaves nothing to chance.

  7. BizarroGlenn Says:

    The reality check is that was the worst performance by an offense to ever win a playoff game in history of NFL. That was not a ravens win, that was a TJ Yates loss.

  8. Nick Says:

    worst crowd i’ve ever heard at a Ravens game, outside of pre-season. it was a total church in there. no noise, no excitment. felt like a loss walking out. not sure what the issue was with our fans. kind of strange.

  9. The "Armchair QB" Says:

    Good analysis, Drew! Interesting that two of the three most high powered offenses are….gone! The third, which we face next week, didn’t beat anybody during the season with a winning record and has a penchant for taking it to the weaker teams. Apparently, defenses still win championships and the Patriots, like the Packers, don’t have one. That being said, IF…..to use your word, we don’t pressure Brady next week, we could be in for a long afternoon. In fact, it’s the only way to beat the “Brady Bunch”……..

  10. joe of bel air Says:

    Your absolutely right however I would rather be lucky than good on occasion. As for the Pats if you look closely at their schedule you will see they won 14 games now and all 14 are against teams who finished the regular season at 500 or lower. They played 2 games against teams with winning records, the Steelers and Giants and lost them both. They played 2 games against defenses who finished in the top 10 defensively and won them both.

    Contrast that to the Ravens who finished 7-0 against teams who went to the playoffs and finished 10-2 against teams with top 10 defenses. Perhaps if the Ravens played the schedule the Pats had they would be 13-3 or 14-2 hosting the championship game. Go Ravens

  11. over40 DON Says:

    Drew, ask Harbaugh if they plan on practicing quick passes over the middle. If the O line isn’t gonna pass block and pick up blitzes Flacco is clueless. Even a weak defense will destroy FU-BOY if EVERY pass play is a long developing play. When they tried short passes over the middle in the 4th 1/4 it looked like they NEVER practiced those plays. We’re so CLOSE yet SO FAR AWAY from INDY.

    http://www.over40baseball.org

  12. Dan Says:

    Couldn’t agree more . The Ravens have one chance in New England next Sunday and It’s a good one to have in your corner , FATE .
    If the Football Gods want the Harbaugh boys in the Super Bowl
    then we’ll have it . If they don’t , Forgetaboutit . Dan,

  13. Chuck Says:

    Drew, as you know, I have not followed NFL Football since the Colts left Baltimore, but WTOP here in the DC area mentioned the Ravens had no turn-overs and no penalties. That says a lot that there might be a bit more than just luck to the win.

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